Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself: I am … Dracula

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Movie monsters know that more than anybody. Much of the genre is built upon the suspenseful build-up to the first full revelation of exactly what it is that we the viewers have paid to see and shiver over. Often, that revelation takes the form of a shock-cut and a scream – a shark with a mouthful of teeth lurching from beneath the waters, a masked killer with a knife lurching out of the shadows – but there are other, more subtle introductions as well, times when the monster ingratiates himself into our presence and even our good graces, maintaining the outward forms of civility, much as the satanic narrator of the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil,” who sings:

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a mans soul and faith
[…]
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste

The shock-form of introduction has its benefits (jump-scares are one of the reasons we go to horror movies), but the more subtle introduction has its place as well, allowing the villain to get into our head and under our skin. Consider, for example, the courtly self-introduction made by the Count in DRACULA (1931).
Dracula1931There have been quite a few memorable introductions in the history of horror movies, none more so than this marvelous entrance by Bela Lugosi in his most famous role, as the regal Transylvanian vampire. The early sound film has a slightly static quality that (perhaps inadvertently) captures the tempo of an ageless immortal who has learned to move at his own pace over the centuries of his undead existence – a facet of his personality that shines like a dark gem in the moonlight as he advances down the stairs, past cobwebs and spiders, and greets his guest Renfield (Dwight Frye) with three simple words, enunciating each individual syllable and pausing dramatically before delivering up his name:

I am … Dra-cu-la.”

You can see the line reading in the embedded video (a clever, fan-made montage) or see the intact sequence by clicking here (embedding disabled, unfortunately). I think you will agree that there is something eerie and unnerving about the way that Dracula refuses to fall into a natural conversational rhythm with Renfield, while simultaneously exuding such formal charm that Renfield is forced to act as if the situation were normal. It is the first hint of the vampire’s ability to dominate mere mortals, even without a display of overt supernatural power – and also the first sign of the vampire seductive nature, presenting an attractive persona that hides the evil nature lurking beneath the skin.
There have been many other great movie monster introductions. I won’t say that none have surpassed Lugosi’s opening salvo, but as someone who saw the film on television at an impressionable age, this is the scene that set the standard by which all others must be judged.
Let’s consider this the first salvo in an on-going, on-again off-again series of memorable opening remarks from movie madmen and monsters. Shall we call it … Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself: Movie Monsters Making a First Impression.
[serialposts]

'Dark Shadows' Takes Flight

Here’s the premise of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version of DARK SHADOWS,  according to Warner Brother’s press release.  JohnnyDepp_SHOLLOW

“In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet–or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine.
The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.
Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
Also residing in the manor is Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). The mystery extends beyond the family, to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.”

Looks like the film is play around with the time frame. On the Dan Curtis-produced TV series, Barnabas becomes a vampire around 1795-97 (both years mentioned, possibly a continuity error) and is released in then contemporary time (circa 1967).  I’d have preferred the “modern-day” scenes in the new film to be  set present-day, but I suppose an early-`70’s flavor could add to the charm of the piece.
Also, in the original soap opera Barnabas Collins might have been a somewhat feckless lover, but hardly a playboy. He was a pretty serious-minded, brooding and passionate man. Could they be going for a bit of that “Captain Jack Sparrow 18th Century rake” vibe?

Sanctuary: Awakening—Clip

In tonight’s episode of SANCTUARY, Awakening Magnus (Amanda Tapping) and Tesla (Jonathon Young) team up to investigate a former Praxian stronghold and unintentionally stumble on secrets of the Vampiris race, and the Vampir Queen.
Meanwhile, Kate’s (Agam Darshi) dark past surfaces while she’s digging into a drug operation that uses Abnormals.
Directed by Lee Wilson, written by Gillian Horvath.
SANCTUARY airs Mondays at 10:00 PM ET/PT on SyFy.

'Dylan Dog: Dead of Night' – Trailer

Here’s the full-length Trailer for DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT. 
Dylan Dog is the world’s only paranormal investigator. He moved to New Olreans to escape a life of nightmares– however, nightmares will find him again. A missing artifact, a beautiful heiress and a brutal murder conspire to drag him back into the dark world of the undead… Have you ever wondered if the person next to you was really part of your world?
Starring Brandon Routh and Sam Huntington (both from SUPERMAN RETURNS), Anita Briem, Taye Diggs, Peter Stormare,  Kurt Angle, Randal Reeder, and Courtney Shay Young.

dylan dog_poster
Official Poster

Directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT, 2007) , from a screenplay by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly (A SOUND OF THUNDER), based on the graphic novel series created by Tiziano Sclavi.
Due in theaters April 29th from Hyde Park Films and Platinum Studios.

Michelle Pfeiffer for 'Dark Shadows'?

MichellePfeiffer_PortAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Michelle Pfeiffer (BATMAN RETURNS) is in negotiations to join the cast of DARK SHADOWS, the Tim Burton / Johnny Depp feature film version of the 60’s Gothic supernatural soap opera. 
Michelle Pfeiffer’s role would be that of  Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the matriarch of the Collins family,  which runs the major industries of  Collinsport, a secluded town on coast of Maine.
In the series, Elizabeth Stoddard (played by film star Joan Bennet) had become relcusive, rarely leaving  Collinswood, the family’s mansion, since the mysterious disappearance of her husband, Paul Stoddard.  
In the 1990’s NBC prime time revival, Jean Simmons played the role.
If Michelle Pfieffer signs, this would be the first time she and Tim Burton have worked together since she played Catwoman in the above mentioned BATMAN RETURNS (1992).
Already in the cast are Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, the melancholy vampire who returns from his 18th Century crypt to pose as his own decesendent.  He’s released by Willie Loomis, to be played by WATCHMEN’s Jackie Earle Haley.     
Australian actreess Bella Heathcoate is set to play Victoria Winters, a young woman with an unexplained tie to the Collins family, who becomes a focus of Barnabas Collin’s attention. However, there’s another woman in the equation, the witch who cursed Barnabas witch vampirism, Angelique DuPre. Eva Green (CASINO ROYALE) will be playing that role.

Joan Bennett, Jonathan Frid in period dress
Joan Bennett, Jonathan Frid in period dress

Sounds like a nice cast is being assembled for the project, which is being fueled in part by Johhny Depp’s long-time desire to play the tragic/heroic Barnabas, ever since seeing Johnathan Frid’s theatrical performance on the 60’s ABC series.  
DARK SHADOWS was created by Dan Curtis (with Art Wallace, Malcom Mammorstein, Sam Hall, and other writers contributing greatly). Dan Curtis made two 1970’s film with the daytime drama’s cast members, and produced the NBC/MGM Televison revival.

The new film is being made by Warner Brothers, which previously tried to relaunch the property as a new TV series for the WB Network.
The pilot for the rejected show has never been aired.

R.I.P. Ingrid Pitt

VampireLovers_IngridPittThe BBC announced that horror movie icon Ingrid Pitt passed away today. She was 73.
Born Ingoushka Petrov in 1937 Poland, Ingrid Pitt would survive the German occupation and internment in a concentration camp. Fluent in several languages, she appeared in both Spanish films and American television (IRONSIDE) before landing an attention-getting role with stars Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton in WHERE EAGLES DARE (1968).
That  high-profile WWII action film would help lead to her winning the part of Marcilla/Carmilla, actually the revived and passionate vampire Mircalla Karnstein in Hammer Studios THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970). Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s story Carmilla , this film (directed by the recently deceased Roy Ward Baker See Obit) would push the boundaries of Hammer’s vampires over the edge of subtle hints of the erotic, into a frank and direct exploitation of the material. This new territoty would feature nudity and a blood-sucker interested in both men and women —mostly fetching, full-bosomed women .
Ingrid Pitt would show vampiric tendencies, literal and figurative, in COUNTESS DRACULA and Amicus’ THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (both 1971), making her a favorite among horror movie fans. She also did television and voice-over work.
Other genre roles included THE OMEGANS, THE WICKER MAN (1973), TRANSMUTATIONS (1986),  as well as two DOCTOR WHO serials The Time Monster (1972) and Warriors of the Deep (1984).

As Queen Galleria in DOCTOR WHO (with Roger Delgado)
As Queen Galleria in DOCTOR WHO (with Roger Delgado)

In recent years, Ingrid Pitt met many fans at various conventions, eager to compliment her on her work, and as being a fondly remembered part of their youth.
Ingrid Pitt vampire Ingrid Pitt with cat Clint Eastwood, Ingrid Pitt in WHERE EAGLES DARE Ingrid Pitt in "The Cloak" episode of THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD

New 'Buffy' Movie & Whedon's Response

joss_whedonE! Online brought some details about the planned BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER feature film from Warner Brothers and Atlas Entertainment. This project is going ahead without Joss Whedon or Sarah Michelle Gellar.
DARK KNIGHT producer Charles Roven is quoted as saying:
“There is an active fan base eagerly awaiting this character’s return to the big screen.  Details of the film are being kept under wraps, but I can say while this is not your high-school Buffy, she’ll be just as witty, tough, and sexy as we all remember her to be.”
According to Warner Brothers, Roven, Steve Alexander (GET SMART), Doug Davison and Roy Lee (HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON) will be producing the new BUFFY feature film,and Whit Anderson, an actress (credited as Whitney Anderson) said to be a Buffy fan, will write the screenplay.
E! asked Joss Whedon for his reactions, and he replied in humorous fashion.

“… My thoughts on the announcement of Buffy the cinema film.  This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my AVENGERS idea that I made up myself.
Obviously I have strong, mixed emotions about something like this. My first reaction upon hearing who was writing it was, “Whit Stillman AND Wes Anderson?  This is gonna be the most sardonically adorable movie EVER.” 
Apparently. I was misinformed. Then I thought, “I’ll make a mint!  This is worth more than all my TOY STORY residuals combined!” Apparently, I am seldom informed of anything. And possibly a little slow.  But seriously, are vampires even popular any more?
I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death.  But, you know, AFTER.  I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill.
I can, however, take this time to announce that I’m making a Batman movie.  Because there’s a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you.
Leave me to my pain! 
Sincerely, Joss Whedon “

The re-boot film is apparently based on the original 1992 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, starring Kristy Swanson as a rather less intelligent-seeming cheerleader-turned-Slayer.   Joss Whedon also wrote that film, but doesn’t hold the rights.

'Dark Shadows' for Burton and Depp

JohnnyDepp_SHOLLOWAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, it looks as though Tim Burton and Johnny Deep’s next project will indeed be the long-expected DARK SHADOWS feature film.
As a child, Johnny Depp was a big fan of the the Dan Curtis produced Gothic soap opera, which featured the tragic and romantic vampire Barnabas Collins, played with theatrical  èlan by series star Johnathan Frid.
The ABC show was the cross-generational TWILIGHT of  the  late 1960’s – early 70’s, attracting children, and teens, who would rush home to watch its mix of monsters and the mundane, as well as the  adult women who were the usual audience for afternoon dramas.
Several years back, Warners Brothers had made an abortive pilot for the WB Network, which is now merged with the remains of of UPN  as The CW Network.
Now, after three or more years of development, Warners has set an April 2011 start date for the project. The screenplay was written by John August, with the latest draft by Seth Grahame-Smith.
Richard Zanuck, Graham King and Christi Dembrowski are set to produce.

1960's American Gothic
Jonathan Frid and Grayson Hall — American Gothicism

In addition to the original half-hour daytime series, Dan Curtis made two modestly budgeted feature films HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS (1970) and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS (1971) for MGM.
In 1991, NBC ran a revived 60-minute version of the series starring Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins. Despite generally favorable reactions, the Dan Curtis/MGM Television show— often interrupted or pre-empted by Gulf War coverage—only lasted a single season.

Vampire Knight Season 2

VampireKnightGuilty-KeyVisual-smVIZ Media announced today the debut of VAMPIRE KNIGHT GUILTY, the second season of  theVAMPIRE KNIGHT animated series (both rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) available now from VIZAnime.com, the company’s premier website for anime, as well as the streaming content provider HULU (www.Hulu.com).

” Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorms, they cross paths with the mysterious Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy’s dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!
 In VAMPIRE KNIGHT GUILTY, Yuki is torn between the two people she cares for most when Zero is accused of Shizuka Hio’s murder and Kaname refuses to attest to his innocence. Drawn deeper into the world of vampires, Yuki struggles to
recall the events of ten years earlier but fails time and again. Kaname evades Yuki’s questions about the past, but when her visions of blood grow more frequent and intense, the past may come to light whether she wants it to or not!”

 
VAMPIRE KNIGHT and VAMPIRE KNIGHT GUILTY are based on themanga series created by Matsuri Hino. VAMPIRE KNIGHT is currently serialized in LaLa magazine in Japan.
 For more information on the VAMPIRE KNIGHT manga and to read free previews online you can visit www.shojobeat.com. For more information on this and other animated titles from VIZ Media check out www.VIZAnime.com.

'30 Days of Night: Dark Days' Red Band

Here’s the Red Band Trailer for the Direct-To Video 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS

“After surviving the incidents in Barrow, Alaska, Stella Olemaun relocates to Los Angeles, where she intentionally attracts the attention of the local vampire population in order to avenge the death of her husband, Eben.”

 
Kiele Sanchez (LOST) steps in to play Stella Oleson, replacing Mellisa George.
Also staring Diora Baird, Mia Kirshner, Harold Perrineau, Rhys Coiro, and Ben Cotton.
Directed by Ben Ketai (30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DUST TO DUST) who co-wrote the screenplay with comic book creator Steve Niles.
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD
Trailer via youTube